Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dying is the New Living!

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.    Galatians 2:20

In the Kingdom of God, dying is the new living! Last week I called on Betty Gillikin.  Betty and her husband Bob have been part of the PCC community since the 80’s when Bob was called here as the Pastor of Discipleship.  While Bob is retired, he in no way has walked away from pastoring and he models for us all a faithfulness to the Savior worth emulating.

In talking with Betty, who has surpassed her life expectancy, given her chronic health conditions by at least 20 years, she spoke with a joy, gratitude and humility that completely betrayed her physical health limitations which happen to be pretty severe.  She shared with me about looking forward to celebrating her 60th wedding anniversary this summer, and then told me with a delight of an 8-year-old on Christmas morning of memorizing key chapters of the Bible.  When I asked her what motivated her to do so, she told me matter of factly that she has glaucoma and she wants God’s word stored up in her heart when she can no longer see the words in her Bible.  WOW! 

Truly in the Kingdom of God, we are confronted daily with opportunities to put to death attitudes, appetites and ambitions that aren’t part of God’s sovereign agenda for us. While we may think these things lead to life, it is through dying to these things that we discover the freedom we were created for.

Following Jesus is a counter-intuitive experience. To get ahead, Jesus taught we go to the end of the line, rather than strive for power, we are taught to work towards humility and the way to live is through dying! We talk a lot about resurrection, but rarely focus on the death that must come first. This summer, through story and biblical insight of the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life and consequent resurrection, we will be freshly reminded that when Jesus tells us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him, He is describing a path of death, not a path to death. It is through our identity with Jesus in His death that we experience freedom and life.

Being alert to these daily opportunities to die to ourselves is how we discover that every act of dying, done in faith, leads to spiritual growth and the freedom we have always craved for and were created for. In truth, death is not an ending. It is the only way to escape our cages that trap us and to experience freedom.  Don’t believe me?  Go hang out with Bob and Betty Gillikin and see for yourself!

This weekend Tony Gapastione will kick off our final leg in this journey through Luke looking at Jesus’ last supper.  It’s gonna be quite a feast in so many ways.

I love being your pastor!